Funerals In Japan: Etiquette And Rituals

Parting Ways: Funeral Etiquette in Japan

Today, over 90 percent of funeral services in Japan are Buddhist. A traditional Buddhist funeral is a chance for loved ones and friends to come together, mourn, and seek closure. At times, it’s a solemn affair, so the idea of unintentionally causing offense is stressful—to say the least. When the time comes, it’s a good idea to prepare beforehand so you can focus on saying your goodbyes, not your apologies.

The dress code

funeral attire - Parting Ways: Funeral Traditions in Japan

While shades of blue and grey are acceptable during the wake, funeral attire should be black from top to bottom. For men, that means a formal black suit and tie—no bow ties, no patterns, and no shiny fabrics or silks. The only color should be the white dress shirt worn under the jacket (which you should never take off, no matter how hot it gets).

Most women wear dresses purchased for just such occasions, although dress pants are perfectly acceptable as well. It’s important not to show your legs, so black stockings or tights are essential.

Things to bring

accessories - Parting Ways: Funeral Traditions in Japan

The cost is not important but 数珠 (Juzu, Buddhist prayer beads) are a must. Choose a set that speaks to you and be sure to bring it along. If you have a little black bag or clutch in a plain, matte fabric feel free to make use of it now. For those of you with larger carry-all bags, there will be space to leave it in the hall so you won’t have to be carrying it throughout the …continue reading